During the Industrial Revolution, Manchester rapidly expanded beyond the confines of what is now known as the city centre. It took in existing townships and established new residential areas some distance out, separated from the town as it was then by fields.
Whalley Range was one of the first suburbs, creating what Samuel Brooks termed "a desirable estate for gentlemen and their families" where people could escape the increasing congestion in the growing industrial city. Roads were laid out and building plots were sold with certain conditions to ensure that development was appropriate to Samuel Brooks's vision.
The estate was laid out between two farm tracks, now Withington Road and Upper Chorlton Road. The tree-lined avenues of Dudley Road, Whalley Road and Chorlton Road form the basis of the estate. Samuel Brooks's own Whalley House (named after the town of Whalley in Lancashire, his place of origin) was built at the south end of Whalley Road.
The house was demolished during the 1930s to make way for the Woodlawn Flats development. The eastern side of the conservation area around Alness Road was built in the latter half of the 19th century on land sold by Lord Egerton of Tatton.
In 1874, an early example of an aquarium was opened to the public on Alexandra Road. Although twice the size of any previous aquarium, it proved to be commercially unsuccessful, and closed down just two years later. Shortly after closure, the building was incorporated into St. Bede's College, which was itself amalgamated with St. Bede's School in All Saints in the City.